Seven Moonee Ponds Baptist Church adventurers spent a couple of days hiking in Lerderderg National Park recently as part of the church’s commitment to coordinating all-age activities in the school holidays.
The 20km hike along Ruth’s Gully Circuit near Blackwood was held on June 29-30 and was open to anyone aged 13 years and above.
Youth and Young Adults Pastor Nathan Soo said the hike provided much-needed time and space for encouraging relationships to develop between different generations in the church community.
“One thing we recognised is that we have limited time with our youth and young adults every week. This hike and camp was a means to be intentional with our relationships and create an opportunity to be active listeners to where our next generation is at. We want to foster a deeper level of connection, and our hope is that opportunities such as this will go a long way in doing so.”
The camp’s organisers aimed to make the hike tough but achievable, in order to open up discussions about facing adversity with faith in Christ.
“We wanted to create an environment where those who came along could experience a safe level of challenge and adversity. This idea of challenge shaped our campfire discussions with the group where our leaders spoke about their own challenges that they have gone through in life and how Jesus walked alongside them in those moments,” Nathan said.
“During the hike, I was impressed with how few complaints there were and there was a very supportive and encouraging atmosphere displayed by everyone who came along. Besides a few tired legs at the end of the hike, we had positive feedback from attendees.”
Some of the challenges participants conquered included carrying all equipment, tents, food and clothes, night temperatures near zero degrees, and one hiker losing a shoe in a river crossing.
“We ensured that everyone had appropriate clothing and sleeping arrangements for the hike. Fortunately our seasoned hikers were able to get a roaring campfire going using damp wood which kept everyone warm.
“I think the best part was the sense of achievement that was felt by everyone at the end of the hike. It was a good level of challenge and definitely brought the group together having completed it.”
Based on this year’s success, Moonee Ponds Baptist aims to hold more hikes in the future.
In the past, the church has hosted a holiday club for primary-aged children and an all-ages fishing day in Port Melbourne. In the holidays after Term 3 the church will hold a “rough-it camp” at a farm.